The Washington Nationals look to cool down Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins while maintaining a double-digit lead in the National League East when they host a three-game series between the division rivals that begins on Monday. Miami completed a three-game sweep against San Diego on Sunday to give it seven wins in eight contests and keep it 4 1/2 games behind Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the NL.
Stanton, who has gone deep 19 times in 52 career games at Nationals Park, went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs in Sunday’s 6-2 triumph and is 10-for-15 with four blasts and nine RBIs over his last four contests. The 27-year-old Californian leads the major leagues with 50 home runs and 108 RBIs (tied with Nolan Arenado) - both career highs - and is the sixth player to reach the half-century mark in blasts before the end of August. The Marlins would love to sweep their second straight series and get within single digits of Washington, which owns a 12-game lead in the division after splitting Sunday’s doubleheader - and the four-game series - against the New York Mets. The Nationals have not lost back-to-back contests since the beginning of the month, when they were outscored 14-6 in setbacks at Miami on Aug. 1 and 2.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Jose Urena (12-5, 3.68 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.25)
Urena attempts to complete the month with a perfect record after improving to 3-0 in four starts with a victory at Philadelphia on Tuesday in which he allowed three runs over five innings. The 25-year-old Dominican leads the team in wins and is 8-0 in 13 appearances (10 starts) on the road this season. Urena made his first career start versus Washington on July 31 and fell to 1-1 in seven career games against the club despite giving up just one run and three hits over eight frames.
Scherzer will return from a stint on the disabled list caused by neck inflammation and look to extend his unbeaten streak to 10 starts. The 33-year-old native of Missouri, who is a candidate to claim the third Cy Young Award of his career, will be facing the Marlins for the third time in his last four turns and hasn’t lost since giving up two unearned runs and two hits at Miami on June 21. Scherzer, who is 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 career starts against the Marlins, leads the NL with 220 strikeouts after registering 13 double-digit performances.
1. Nationals INF Adrian Sanchez missed Sunday’s doubleheader as he spent the previous night in the hospital to monitor his breathing after he was hit in the chest by a pitch in Saturday’s win over New York.
2. Stanton has hit 23 homers that have given Miami a lead this season, the most in the NL since Albert Pujols belted the same amount in 2006 while with St. Louis.
3. Washington recalled OF Rafael Bautista from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned RHP A.J. Cole to the Chiefs.
PREDICTION: Nationals 3, Marlins 1